Surprising Ways Kids Use Our School Gardens

We spent an entire school year planning our school gardens before we ever visited nurseries to purchase plants or started fundraising to support the project. We created a steering committee, wrote vision and mission statements, and tried to figure out ways we could incorporate our gardens into academics. We also wanted something that would reduce student stress.

Never in all those conversations did we predict how students would use our patches of native California vegetation and student-built dry creek beds.

Students pull benches over to the English garden to eat lunch with friends away from the bustle of the quad. This past year, while weeding, we found rocks AVID students painted with inspirational messages and hid like Easter eggs. Cairns, stacked rocks, have turned up in the rock garden. Someone created footprints in concrete blocks and installed them along the botanical garden path. Periodically AP biology students will leave their plants in the gardens to give them some sun.

We don’t know who our garden visitors are. The only reason we knew the origins of our AVID additions was that students labeled the rocks with their program name on the underbelly, but we don’t know which class made them. We only know that students have taken ownership of the gardens, and they’ve done so in ways nobody predicted. That feels like success.

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